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The ManyTracks Orchard

Dudley Apple

a planted seedling of a New Brunswick apple, Castle Hill, Maine, 1877.  It became the most planted variety in the north at the turn of the century (1900). AKA Dudley Winter and North Star.


In 1918 a second variety trial orchard was planted at the Chatham Experiment Station in the Upper Peninsula. Most of the information from this orchard has, unfortunately, been lost. But a short note in a bulletin includes North Star in a listing of apples planted.


planted 2002

on Antonovka rootstock


Dudley apple tree in fruit

Four decades of Growing Good Food in the Northwoods of Michigan's Upper Peninsula
Down to Earth Information, Experiences, Thoughts

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Black Oxford










Dudley Winter seedling

Our tree came from Fedco Trees in Maine, grafted on standard Antonovka rootstock, planted in 2002. I like the form it takes-wide-beautiful and easy to pick. I'm keeping it pruned to about 12 ft tall; which is easier to do on a wide growing tree. Our first harvest was in 2009 - 20 nice apples! And good tasting apples they were - large, crisp, juicy, nice tart-sweet balance. Good fresh, good dried and good as sauce. And it ripens over many weeks so spreads out the harvest nicely.

The next year, 2010, was a very good crop of nice large apples. Since then we've had moderate crops (along with no or sparse crops, too, thanks to late spring freezes) from early to late in September, and we've eaten, preserved and enjoyed a lot of DudleDudley tree wintery's. It's a great standard now in the orchard.  

It probably won't win any awards for its name (unless your or a friend's name happens to be Dudley) and you aren't likely to find it in many modern orchards today, but at one time it was a popular apple for the north. There is some question as to its parentage but it came to be about 1877 in Castle Hill, Maine, a planted seed in John Wesley Dudley's orchard of either New Brunswick or Duchess, maybe crossed with Hyslop crab. We'll never know for sure but what matters is it turned out to  be a good hardy variety to be planted extensively in Maine and other northern areas (including the U.P.) at the turn of the century. I suspect there were, and are, old Dudleys growing in some of the old orchards around here, and likely progeny in the many wild seedling trees. So I am happy to have one growing in my orchard - it is known to be a hardy and long lived tree.

2020 - An Off Year -- for fruit but a good, healthy year for the tree. Mid April pruned quite a bit, many low hanging branches and opening space between layers. Looks good. 9/17 picked 3 from tree, a couple dropped earlier. One was VERY large - 11 oz, plus 2 medium size.

2019 - Dudley Shines Again -- This tree a major player in my orchard. I love the form - it looks venerable already, though it is a somewhat young tree at 17 yrs of age. I did a bit of major pruning in April, and more mid-summer, giving the branches more space to breath, and keeping it to the height of my reach on the ladder. It blossomed profusely (it was a great apple blossom year for most of the trees) and the fruit came likewise. I did a fair amount of thinning though I could have done more. Time limited me, not desire. I've found thinning worthwhile, not only for size (Dudley is naturally a fairly large apple) but for clean fruit. Crowded apples tend toward more insect damage and skin issues. But really, no complaints about the harvest. As often happens, I thought it would be just a moderate harvest, but it proved me wrong.

Dudley apples loaded limbsThe end of August the drops started including some good apples (the first drops are almost always fruit damaged in some way, usually insect, maybe some scab, usually smalls). Thankfully limber limbs were bent to the ground with no damage, heavy with fruit (need to do some low pruning next year!). Another week and we were eating and saucing good Dudleys. By the third week in September I was picking up many baskets of very good large and medium sized fruit daily. I started drying the fruit, canning sauce and making cider. The end of September I picked the rest of the apples - 4 half-bushels - 78#! We made more cider and I stored the best in the root cellar for fall applesauce. A very good year and a very good harvest. What a great tree.

2018 - An off year but still a decent small harvest, mostly from the south side of the tree. It was a rough winter in addition to last year being a large harvest so I wasn't surprised at the light crop. I pruned quite a bit mid July to open up the interior more, pulling down some upper branches as well, and am happy with the results. The tree is healthy, vigorous, and wide. Quite a contrast in shape to its companion Black Oxford next door. Together they have been our main apple producers while the stalwart Beacons were being rejuvenated, and a much appreciated pair they have been.

Dudley winter fruit

2017 - Great Harvest! The first really big harvest - 86#, not including all that were eaten fresh from the tree. Half were small early drops (starting August 21), rough or damaged apples which went for cider. The other half were good apples to be stored for fresh eating and fresh made sauce, pretty much all off the tree by Sept. 22. I thinned quite a bit but could probably have thinned more.

The fruit is on the tart side, firm and juicy enough for good fresh eating, nicely large for drying; it makes good sauce (with some sweetening) and great cider. Red stripes and splashes on yellow-green background makes a nice apple looking apple.

It's said Dudley is a decent keeper apple well into winter but since it ripens in September when our root cellar is still warm I dry the majority of the crop that we don't eat. It hangs well on the tree for several weeks which is great for apple-a-day fresh eating, as long as the birds don't decide to help themselves. This year we ate the last stored apples November 8. They were getting rather soft with a slight mealy texture but were still decent to eat and plenty good enough for sauce. It certainly understandable that an apple variety might change down through the many years so I wonder if the original Dudley was a later, and better storage, apple. One of the names it was known by was Dudley Winter (it was also sold for a short time as North Star).

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Have you read  "Frost Dancing - Tips from a Northern Gardener" ? A fun short read.

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and "Growing Berries for Food and Fun"   A journey you can use in your own garden.

updated 10/06/2019

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